Red tape stalls Little Beach land donation on Cowichan River for nearly 5 years – Cowichan Valley Citizen
When Janice and Ken Hiles bought 20 acres of land near the Cowichan River in 2018 with the intention of subdividing and developing part of it, they had no idea the wall of bureaucracy and bureaucracy was hanging around. many levels of government they would have to Face.
The couple’s troubles began when they approached the Cowichan Valley Regional District and offered to donate Little Beach and another portion of their property across Greendale Road as a park as a community amenity contribution that was part of their rezoning application for the remainder of the property.
Little Beach is the approximately 600 foot stretch of waterfront property on the Cowichan River that is used as a pullout for the thousands of tubers that are found on the river each summer.
Since then, Janice said the couple had gone through the bureaucratic hoops of numerous rules, regulations, departments and people at CVRD, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Ministry of Forestry and Ministry of Forestry. Transport and Infrastructure to donate the property, and the problem is still unresolved.
“It has been a nightmare trying to give this waterfront property away and we cannot move forward with our plans for our property until this is resolved,” she said. declared. “It has been financially dreadful for us to have to pay for all the studies, including a snow avalanche study if you can believe it, and the many surveys and other work that was needed, and now we also have to face the fact as interest rates rise and lot prices fall.
Janice said the couple thought they were finally close to completing everything required of the CVRD and the province when the Department of Forests informed them that a map showing water permits in the area they had provided was incorrect and that the work they were asked to do regarding the licenses needed to be corrected.
“That was two weeks ago and we’re letting our experts and our lawyers deal with it,” she said.
“Everything has been amazing.”
The Ministry of Forests responded in a statement that it does not regulate access agreements between private landowners and that the establishment of easements for these water permits was a recommendation to the Ministry of Transport for their subdivision review, but not a requirement.
Ian Morrison, CVRD director for Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls, which includes the Hiles’ property, acknowledged that a lot had gone wrong with the couple’s efforts to donate Little Beach to CVRD at many different levels of government.
He said one would have thought the process of donating a park as a gift to CVRD would have been much quicker and easier.
“Challenges [the Hiles] faced were almost insurmountable and all the variables in their path took a lot longer to manage than they thought,” Morrison said.
“A lot of the problems were related to personnel issues, bureaucracy and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. They even had to do an avalanche study in an area where there is never enough snow to even consider avalanches.
Morrison said that as sector director he has some influence to try to move these processes forward within CVRD, but he has no authority at other levels of government other than to encourage staff district to follow up with higher levels of government.
“Investigations and other work are being done, so what remains to be done on this file should be automatic and just needs to be signed off,” he said.
Morrison said he fears small developers like the Hiles will be deterred from applying for projects in the district if they face such a wall of paperwork.
“These people are relatively sophisticated, but without their level of expertise in these areas, this category of developers will likely die out,” he said.
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